The independent news organization of Duke University

The Wire

Dec. 12, 2009 marks the fifth anniversary of a pop culture milestone. On that day in 2004, Stringer Bell of The Wire was brutally murdered by the odd alliance of Omar Little and Brother Mouzone.

In such a harsh end to an otherwise successful life, we lost a TV character who transcended the traditional model of the thug gangster. Stringer wasn’t in the game for the bullets or the blood. No, he wanted more. He wanted true success. Fabolous would have been proud.

Let us briefly review the principles of business, relationships and life Stringer espoused so faithfully, it likely made John Wooden blush.

— Always value education. In pursuing an economics degree at a Baltimore community college, Stringer undoubtedly optimized his crew’s ability to shake down East Side gangsters and maximized the profits he could extract from his indigent and mostly homeless customer base. ­

— True friends stab you in the front. Business partner and friend Avon Barksdale always posed a challenge for Stringer. Despite building a drug empire together, both Avon and Stringer wanted it all for themselves and would easily sell each other down the river.

— The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Harpers Magazine-reading gangster-nerd Mouzone and shotgun-toting Omar were the unlikeliest of allies. Regardless, their antipathy toward each other took a backseat to their venemous hatred of Stringer, and their shared love of all things violent.

— Aim for the stars. Drug kingpin-lite Marlo Stanfield should have followed Stringer’s lead. Keep flying higher, Icarus.

He’s no Sun Tzu, but Stringer’s at least a Moltke in the pantheon of wise soldiers.


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